February 5, 2019 7:00 am

High vaccination rate, public health response, means Manitobans relatively safe from US measles outbreaks

Manitoba has a high vaccination rate for measles.

Alessandra Tarantino / The Canadian Press

A number of U.S. states are dealing with an outbreak of measles, but according to experts, Manitobans are relatively safe.

Medical officer of health Dr. Tim Hilderman told 680 CJOB that measles are rare in the province, although we do see the occasional sporadic case.

“Usually they’re travel-related, imported into the province, and then there might be some local spread to close contacts of that individual.

“We’ve had no cases in 2019 so far.”

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In 2018, there were two cases in the eastern Interlake reason, and prior to that, the last measles report – two cases in Winnipeg – was in 2015.

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Hilderman said the last real cluster in Manitoba was in 2014, and it was based around a travel-imported case.

“We see globally there are a number of places in Asia and Europe where there are hundreds of thousands of measles cases a year,” he said.

“These kinds of sporadic importation to measles in the province is kind of the new norm.”

Hilderman credited Manitoba’s relative success to a high vaccination rate – somwhere between 80 to 90 percent of kids age two to seven – as well as the rapid public health response when cases are identified.

The key for the province going forward, he said, is to focus on overcoming what’s known as ‘vaccine hesitancy’.

“There is variation in terms of measles vaccination coverage within our health regions, within our geographic areas,” he said.

“There aren’t easily-identifiable large groups of non-immunizing individuals.

“The first part is trying to understand where those populations are rather than looking at the overall population data.”

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